April 17, 2014

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Nats dump Cards 11-1

Stephen Strasburg gave up one run on two hits and two walks in three innings, but the Nats offense pounded out 11 runs on 15 hits as the Washington Nationals dumped the St. Louis Cardinals 11-1 at Space Coast Stadium in Viera on Sunday.

Strasburg wasn’t the sharpest in his second appearance, as he walked the first two batters he faced and did not record a strikeout. He did generate five ground ball outs and induced two double plays.

The rest of the pitchers that followed were near perfect. Matt Purke, Drew Storen, Craig Stammen, Christian Garcia and Luis Ayala combined for six innings of shutout ball, allowing just one hit and no walks, striking out four — three by Garcia in his inning of work.

To be fair, the Cardinals brought very few major league players for the road trip up U.S. 95.

Anthony Rendon led off and went 2-for-3 with a homer, two runs and an RBI. Wilson Ramos — hitting .563 this spring — went 2-for-3 with a run and 3 RBIs and Koyie Hill drove in two. Tyler Moore added a pair of hits in two trips.

The Nats host the Houston Astros at 6:05 on Monday.


Washington Nationals Game 159 Review: Zimmermann’s 20-win bid falls short in 4-1 loss

Jordan Zimmermann’s bit to become the only N.L. pitcher with 20 wins ended Wednesday with a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Nats’ righty didn’t have his best day, and unfortunately his teammates still appear to be sleepwalking a bit following their ouster from the playoff chase on Monday.

With the win, the Cardinals reduced their “magic number” to two to win the N.L. Central.

The Nats broke out first in the opening frame against Cardinals starter Shelby Miller (W, 15-9, 3.06). Denard Span drew a walk leading off and promptly stole second. Ryan Zimmerman bounced on in front of the plate and was thrown out, but Span moved up to third. After Jayson Werth walked, Bryce Harper singled to center to being Span home. But the rally ended there, as Ian Desmond and Adam LaRoche both flied out with just the one run scored.

The Cards tied it up in the third. Daniel Descalso led off the inning with a double to deep center, took third on Miller’s sacrifice, and scored on Matt Carpenter’s ground out to first.

Zimmermann (L, 19-9, 3.25) ran into trouble in the fourth. He hit Matt Holliday with his first pitch of the inning, then gave up a double to Matt Adams to put runners at second and third. Yadier Molina then singled to center, scoring both. Pitching coach Steve McCatty came out to settle Zimmermann down and it worked, as he retired the next three batters in order.

But the Nats leading winner this season gave up a solo homer to Adams in the sixth, and that was pretty much the book on the three-game sweep for the Redbirds. Zimmermann went seven innings and allowed four earned runs on six hits. He did not walk a batter and ended with just two strikeouts.

THE GOOD: Not a whole lot. The Nats only managed five hits and looked rather like they were still playing with a “knocked-from-the-playoffs” hangover.

THE BAD: Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond were both 0-for-4 and stranded three base runners.

THE UGLY: The Nats have lost four of their last five games.

THE STATS: 5 hits, 3 BBs, 6 Ks. 1-for-5 with RISP, 5 LOB. E: Desmond (20, throw), 1 DP.

NEXT GAME: Thursday in Arizona at 9:40 pm ET. Stephen Strasburg (7-9, 3.02) faces Patrick Corbin (14-7, 3.28).

Nats Nightly: Wacha’s no-hit bit ends in 9th; Nats lose 2-0

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse of Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 2-0 loss the the St. Louis Cardinals and Michael Wacha’s no-hit bit.

Washington Nationals Game 158 Review: Zimmerman breaks up no-no in 9th but Nats lose 2-0


St. Louis Cardinals rookie Michael Wacha stood one out away from achieving baseball immortality having thrown 8 2/3 innings without allowing a single hit. All that stood in the way of history was Ryan Zimmerman.

Unfortunately for Wacha, Zimmerman bounced a high chopper up the middle which ticked off Wacha’s glove. Shortstop Pete Kozma fielded it barehanded and threw to first, but the rushed, off-balanced throw pulled Matt Adams off the bag and Zimmerman eluded the sweeping tag.

Just like that, a weak ground ball turned into a single, and Wacha’s attempt at history passed.

Unfortunately for the Nats, Jayson Werth — representing the tying run — grounded out to first against reliever Trevor Rosenthal, so the Cardinals escaped with a 2-0 win regardless.

The Cardinals, still in a battle for first place in the N.L. Central with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, picked up single runs in the third and fourth innings against Nats starter Gio Gonzalez (L, 11-8, 3.36, 2 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 6 K).

In the third, Matt Carpenter hit a two-out double and came home on a single by Shane Robinson. The next inning, Adams singled to lead off and scored on Yadier Molina’s RBI double.

The rest was all Wacha. The 22-year-old rookie, who made his debut in May and was making his ninth start of the season, was superb. Working mostly with his fastball and changeup, Wacha kept the Nats hitters off balance all night and he struck out nine in total.

The Nats got one base runner in the fifth, when Adam LaRoche’s routine ground ball got through second baseman Carpenter, a second in the seventh when Zimmerman walked, and a third when LaRoche walked in the eighth. But Wilson Ramos grounded into a double play to erase LaRoche.

NEXT GAME: Wednesday at 1:45 pm ET. Jordan Zimmermann (19-8, 3.18) faces Shelby Miller (14-9, 3.12)


Nats Nightly: 4-3 loss to Cardinals eliminates Nats from playoff chase

Dave Nichols of District Sports Page and Patrick Reddington and Doghouse from Federal Baseball discuss the Washington Nationals 4-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals and their elimination from the playoff chase.

Washington Nationals Game 157 Review: Nats eliminated from playoff chase with loss to Cards


The Washington Nationals late-season charge for the playoffs ended Monday night, as they fell to the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3, Combined with victories by the Cincinnati Reds and Pittsburgh Pirates, the Nats were mathematically eliminated from the playoff race.

Tanner Roark, outbattled by Cards starter Adam Wainright,  took the loss, allowing four runs on nine hits and a walk in five innings.

The Nats went right to work on Wainright (W, 18-9, 3.01) in the first inning and took an early lead. Denard Span led the game off with a single and after Ryan Zimmerman flew out to deep center, Jayson Werth hit a rocket to left for his 24th home run of the season, giving the Nats a quick 2-0 lead.

That lead would be short-lived, however, as the Cardinals answered in the bottom half. Matt Carpenter drew a walk from Roark (L, 7-1, 1.74), went to third on a Matt Adams two-out single, and came home on Yadier Molina’s base hit.

The Cards tied it up in the fourth. David Freese singled and moved up a base on Daniel Descalsco’s single. Freese then scored on Shane Robinson’s soft line drive that fell in about a foot from the right field line.

Carlos Beltran broke the tie in the next inning. Jon Jay led off the fifth with a single and scored on Beltran’s no-doubt-about-it homer to right field.

The Nats got one back in the eighth. Anthony Rendon singled to lead off the frame and went to second on pinch-hitter Steve Lombardozzi’s bunt single. Denard Span sacrificed to move both runners up. Zimmerman grounded out to short to bring home Rendon, but Werth grounded to third to end the threat with the Nats still down a run.

THE GOOD: Jayson Werth. Nice homer.

THE BAD: Adam LaRoche went 0-for-4.

THE UGLY: Bryce Harper fouled a ball off his foot/shin area. Like he needs one more thing to worry about.

THE STATS: 7 hits, 0 BBs, 6 Ks. 0-for-4 with RISP, 3 LOB. No errors, one DP.

NEXT GAME: Tuesday against the Cardinals at 8:15 pm ET. Gio Gonzalez (11-7, 3.39) faces Michael Wacha (3-1, 3.21).

Washington Nationals Game 21 Review: Nats fall below .500 after sweep by Cards

The Washington Nationals are scuffling. No, that would imply some measure of success. They flat-out aren’t hitting at all right now, as they managed just five runs total in three games against the St. Louis Cardinals in a three-game sweep, completed by a 4-2 loss Wednesday at Nationals Park before 33,694.

Looking to halt a three-game losing streak — and five straight at home — Nats ace Stephen Strasburg gave the Nats a quality outing in the bright sunshine. But right now, Nats pitchers have to be perfect to give the team a chance to succeed and he was not that. With the loss, the Nats drop below .500 (10-11) for the first time since 2011.

The Cards did their damage to Strasburg in the first before the big guy was able to settle in. Matt Carpenter led off with a double on a soft line drive. After Allen Craig struck out, Matt Holliday flipped a pitch to right for a single. Strasburg lost Carlos Beltran on five pitches to load the bases, and Yadier Molina delivered the “big” blow, a bloop single to right to plate two. Beltran scored when the next batter, Daniel Descalso, grounded to third baseman Anthony Rendon and the rookie made a trhowing error trying to get the force at second base to ignite a double play.

Strasburg settled in after that, mowing through the Cardinals lineup for the next six innings. The Nats ace did not give up another run and infact, never pitched into trouble again. He retired 19 of the last 20 hitters he faced to keep the Nats in the game. Strasburg’s final line was solid: 7.0 IP, 3 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K, 110-76; but with the way the Nats are hitting these days, it wasn’t nearly enough.

The Nats pushed one run across in the sixth off a tiring Jaime Garcia, but they wasted a couple big opportunities to get back into the game. Strasburg led off with a single up the middle, Denard Span followed and did the same. Jayson Werth tapped back to the picher to move the runners two second and third with one out. Bryce Harper (0-for-4) grounded to second to bring in Strasburg to break up the shutout. Tyler Moore then coaxed a walk from Garcia to put runners on the corners.

St. Louis manager Mike Matheny then lifted Garcia in favor of reliever Joe Kelly, to face Ian Demsond. Kelly fed Desmond a steady diet of outside pitches until Desmond swung through a curveball to end the inning.

The Nats got Kelly in trouble the following inning but could not capitalize. Anthony Rendon and Jhonatan Solato both hit one-out singles, putting runners on the corner. Nats manager Davey Johnson pinch-hit Steve Lombardozzi for Strasburg. Kelly served Lombardozzi three straight balls to set up a great opportunity, but Kelly was able to work the count full. Johnson then put on the hit-and-run, but Lombo swung through a two-seam fastball and the catcher running was out by 10 feet to kill the rally.

Drew Storen continued his early-season struggles, allowing a run in the eighth on three base hits.

The Nats cut the lead back to two on a Jayson Werth solo home run int he bottom of the eighth, but Trevor Rosenthal came back to overmatch Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond, striking both batters out on three pitches — all fastballs.

THE GOOD: Strasburg. Once he got past his first inning jitters, he was the same old Steven Strasburg. He’s gotta figure out how to avoid those long first innings.

THE BAD: Danny Espinosa. 0-for-4, K. Average down to .155 and OBP less than .200. Nah, a torn rotator cuff has nothing to do with it.

THE UGLY: Adam LaRoche. I know he only got one at bat, but he looked as lost as he has all season. Swung at three pitches, late on everything. Just looked completely overmatched against the hard-throwing Rosenthal.

THE STATS: 7 hits, 2 BBs, 7 Ks. 0-for-7 with RISP, 6 LOB. E: Rendon (2, throw), two DPs.

NEXT GAME: Thursday against the Cincinnati Reds at 7:05 pm. Gio Gonzalez (1-1, 5.85) hosts Bronson Arroyo (2-1, 3.54).

Washington Nationals Game 20 Review: Wainwright shuts down Nats, 2-0

Ross Detwiler (L, 1-1) did his best to position the Washington Nationals (10-10) for a win Tuesday night, but it only took the St. Louis Cardinals (12-8) four consecutive hits in the fourth to edge out their East Coast rivals, 2-0.

Prior to Tuesday night’s matchup, Detwiler had not yet allowed more than one run in a single start this season. In fact, he became the first Nationals pitcher in the team’s short history to allow only one run or less in each of his first three starts of 6.0+ innings pitched.  [Read more...]

Washington Nationals Game 19 Review: No offense in 3-2 loss to Cardinals

In the first rematch of last season’s National League Divisional Series, the Washington Nationals dropped the first of a three game series to the St. Louis Cardinals, 3-2, before a chilly crowd of 27,263 at Nationals Park.

Nats starter Dan Haren pitched his best game of the season to date, but was outdueled by Cardinals rookie Shelby Miller, as the Cards rookie and three relievers limited the Nats to five hits for the night.

The Cardinals got to Haren (L, 0-3, 7.36) in the third inning. Pete Kozma — Nats nemesis — singled over Danny Espinosa’s head at second base on a 2-0 count with one out and went to second on Shelby Miller’s sacrifice. Matt Carpenter then coaxed a free pass to set up Allen Craig. Craig got fooled on a 2-1 cutter, but he lefted a fly ball into the wind and it carried to the wall in left center. Denard Span lept at the last, crashing into the fence, but he could not come down with it. Two runs scored on the play.

The Nats (10-9) answered off Miller in the fourth. Jayson Werth reached on an infield single and scored on Ian Desmond’s two-out double to center. Anthony Rendon, in his second Major League game, worked the count full before lining a double to right center for his first big league hit and RBI, plating Desmond easily to tie the score.

The Cardinals came back in the sixth and chased Haren quickly. Haren hit Matt Holliday on with a 1-1 fastball to lead off the inning. Carlos Beltran hit the next pitch into right for a single. Yadier Molina then hit the very next pitch into right for a single to score Holliday from second. Haren then walked David Freese on a close inside pitch, his 97th of the night, and Davey Johnson had seen enough.

Johnson summoned Craig Stammen from the pen and the dependable righty got Jon Jay to ground into a nifty 3-2-3 double play. After intentionally walking Kozma, Stammen calmly struck out Miller with a 91-MPH sinker to end the threat.

Haren’s line was solid: five innings, three earned runs on six hits and three walks with three strikeouts. But it wasn’t enough on a night the offense was quieted.

Unfortunately, the offense just couldn’t mount any comeback against the Cards to change the score. The Nats put two runners on in the seventh against Miller with two outs, but Joe Kelly came in and got pinch-hitter Chad Tracy to fly out to center on a great sliding catch by Jon Jay. They put two more on in the eighth against Trevor Rosenthal, but the fireballer froze Ian Desmond with a 97 MPH fastball on the outside black to squelch the rally.

Edward Mujica finished things up for the Cards with a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his second save of the season.

THE GOOD: The double play turned by Adam laRoche and Kurt Suzuki to keep it 3-2 in the sixth was a thing of beauty. In fact, the Nats turned three DPs on the night helping their cause, maybe a little turning the tide on the Nats defensive woes this season so far. Rendon started a 5-4-3 in the sixth with a sharp, calm feed to Espinosa perfectly on the glove-side.

THE BAD: Ian Desmond looking at strike three with runners at second and third and two outs in the eighth inning. Rosenthal is a “challenge” pitcher, he puts his fastball up there and challenges you to hit it. Desmond looked like he wanted no part of it.

THE UGLY: LaRoche went 0-for-4, stranding three and lowering his season batting average to .185.

THE STATS: 5 hits, 3 BBs, 11 ks. 1-for-7 with RISP, 6 LOB. No errors, 3 DPs.

NEXT GAME: Tuesday at 7:05 against the Cardinals. Ross Detwiler (1-0, 0.90) hosts Adam Wainright (3-1, 2.48).

Washington Nationals Spring Training: Haren gives up five runs in Nats’ loss to Cardinals

Dan Haren allowed five runs and six hits in five innings pitched as the Washington Nationals fell 5-1 to the St. Louis Cardinals at Roger Dean Stadium Friday afternoon.

This is Grapefruit League baseball, so it should matter little that the Nats have fallen to .500 with a 9-9 record. The Nats roster consisted largely of backup players, after all.

Nevertheless, the Nats’ projected starting rotation – for when the numbers do matter – currently boasts an ERA over 5.00 this spring. [Read more...]

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